I received this notice by email a while ago, but wasn’t really considering going (no room on the shelf) until Dina told me that our friends Dario & Jenny asked if we were interested in going together. Since I hadn’t tried their wines for a couple of years, and since visiting a winery on Friday morning is much more fun that cleaning up around the house, we decided to go.
When we got there I went down to the basement where the winery used to be, passing these interesting displays along the way, and it still smelled very musty.
Apparently the basement flooded during the winter rains and they had to move everything upstairs. It’s not quite as quaint as in the basement, but it is definitely more attractive, though we did not see the actual winery (crusher, tanks, barrels, etc.) this time.
I was a bit put off when I found out that there was a steep (in my opinion) charge for tastings. Many wineries have started charging for tastings in order to discourage kids who go from winery to winery looking for free drinks, and that’s reasonable since the fees generally don’t exceed about NIS 25, and almost always the fee is applied to any purchases made. At Villa Wilhelma the tasting fee is NIS 45 and it is not applied to purchases.
Villa Wilhelma has added a small café/restaurant since our last visit so we sat down at an outdoor table on the porch and ordered a tasting and a cheese platter to share. The cheese platter was quite generous and included three soft cheeses, five hard cheeses, a green salad, a plate of fresh cut vegetable sticks for munching and dipping, and a basket of bread.
While we were attacking the cheeses, all of which were good, Motti Goldman, the owner of the winery, started pouring us our tastings.
He began with the Grand Chardonnay that we had all enjoyed from an earlier vintage. The 2007 was similar, though Dario thinks it was fruitier than in the past.
Next we tried the 2007 Pinotage. This is a variety that I rather enjoy, and only the third I have found in Israel (after Barkan and Binyamina). The Villa Wilhelma Pinotage, despite its rather unusual brownish color, is a delightfully light and fruity table wine, with a medium finish. Slightly chilled it was very refreshing. At NIS 50, I consider this a wine a good deal, and with the 3+1 sale it was a real bargain.
The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon was next in line. While this was a very pleasant medium bodied Cabernet, none of us was overly impressed, and in our opinion it was not worth the NIS 120 price tag.
Motti then poured us tastings of the 2005 Timeless 917 and 1243 Cabernet-Merlot blends. The two wines are the same blend and vintage, the only difference being barrel time – 917 and 1243 days respectively. The 917 was nicely integrated with a very pleasant spicy finish, but it was overshadowed by the excellent 1243, which was a fuller bodied wine with subtle fruit and a longer finish. Dina, who has much more sensitive taste buds than I, detected hints of strawberry. Interestingly, we did not notice the smoky bitterness that Rogov detected when he tasted and reported on this wine in February. Both of these wines were well out of our price range, but we quite enjoyed sampling them.
We finished up with a taste of the Floral Blanc semi-dry white blend. This was a nice little wine that left a pleasant flavor in our mouths for the ride home.
In the end we bought some of the Grand Chardonnay and Pinotage, both of which will be very welcome on hot summer days.